Waste Pro employees Eric Thomas and Ladarius Gardiner saved an Ormond Beach resident from a fire.

Two Waste Pro employees were recognized by Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington and the City Commission at its meeting on Tuesday, May 15, receiving a standing ovation for their heroism in saving an Ormond Beach resident from a house fire in late April.

Recycle driver Eric Thomas and Ladarius Gardiner were picking up recycling at Oakwood Park on April 23 when they smelled smoke, according to the mayor’s proclamation. A neighbor alerted their team that there was a fire in one of the homes with a person still inside. This led Thomas to take action and enter the home immediately to search for the individual.

“This is a great story,” said Partington as he invited the men to come up before the City Commission.

Thomas went directly to the home’s second floor, checking every room in search of the resident. He was unsuccessful, and came back outside to see if the person had evacuated on their own. The same neighbor told him they hadn’t, but that they had heard the resident coughing from inside the home.

Thomas took off his shirt, wrapped it around his face, and once again entered the home, braving the thick smoke that filled it. He was able to find the resident this time, who was unconscious on the couch. When he attempted to bring him to safety, the resident woke up alarmed and struggled against Thomas.

Thomas managed to get the resident to the doorway, where Gardiner assisted him to get them both outside the home.

Sean Jennings, Waste Pro Sarasota-Bradenton division manager, attended the City Commission meeting to commend both men on their heroism. He said out of the many incredible things he’s witnessed in his life, their act was “up there.”

“Thank you for the things you guys have done and for the acts that you showed for this city,” Jennings said. “[I’m] just grateful to say that we’re on the same team.”

Jimmy Hull, after hearing the men’s story from Partington, presented them with gift certificates for Hull’s Seafood Kitchen.

The city proclamation stated that Thomas has been with Waste Pro since the beginning of its Ormond Beach contract in 2014, and, had worked in the city with the prior contractor for the previous decade. Gardiner has been working with Waste Pro in the city since 2016. He is also a full-time student at Daytona State College.

City Commissioner Troy Kent dedicated his final remarks of the night to highlight his love for the city, and used the Waste Pro employees to illustrate his point.

“We have a garbage contracting crew that goes into burning buildings and saves people,” Kent said.